Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

I’ve got it all figured out…

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

Figuring it all out: overrated. You figure it all out, and then where are you at? Somewhere new with new shit to figure out. Fuck that. Vicious cycle. It’s pretty clear in any given situation what you need to do, what you owe yourself and others and which is more important, if they’re not the same thing. Everything else is just mind clutter and wants. Do what you need to do and everything else falls into place. Wei wu wei, baby.

‘Course, what the fuck do I know? :)

Oblivion.

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

Heya all. If you haven’t seen me, it’s because I’ve been spending time hanging out with my drunken-ass friend Dan Mobley, who’s only in town every coupla years or so, then goes back to Guam, where the whores are cheap and the liquor’s cheaper. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I’ll have to ask him.

When I haven’t been hanging out with Dan, drinking like a goddamned drain, I’ve been playing Oblivion, or hanging out at the Greenbelt or taking pictures or some combination of the above. These are important things.

If I promised I’d come over to your place and haven’t, then I will. Someday. Soon. Soon-ish.

If I said I’d take you out for dinner, well, I didn’t so much forget as stay up drinking until eight in the morning and then pass out for the rest of the day. I’ll make it up to ya.

If I said I’d help you walk your dog, then I’m a goddamned liar.

That said, none of this would be an issue if you were hanging out with me all the time in the first goddamned place.

Goddamnit, I sure am saying goddamned a lot.

Goddamn.

Anyway, you know who you are, and I’m sorry. I’ll do anything to make it up to you.*

You should come out the Greenbelt next Saturday, earlier this time. Going to Sculpture falls if it’s running good and hard. Longer walk, easier trail. Fewer rattlesnakes. Still aiming for food at 3p though.

Talk to ya soon,-k. ^-^

*–”anything” should not here be construed to mean anything that I don’t like doing to begin with. I am an asshole, after all. :)

*Yawn* it’s been a while

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

I know it’s been almost three weeks since I posted anything to mah beloved blog here. I haven’t stopped taking pictures, I’ve just been concentrating mostly on technical stuff that mostly isn’t worth posting, and in my attempts to keep pushing at what I can do, have generally had a lot more failures than success lately. I will post some stuff of the stuff later, if not tonight then tomorrow or something.

Things I’ve learned:

  1. Always check your settings before you take a picture, if it’s been more than 5 seconds since you took the last one. Is focus manual or auto? What’s the white balance setting? Exposure compensation–where’s that at? Is macro mode on? What’s the ISO setting? Am I in manual, aperature, shutter, program mode? What’s my aperature/shutter set to?

    Failure to ask these questions has bitten me in the rear more than any single other issue, as I’ve set something to get a particular shot and not cleared it later.

  2. For buildings, get as far away as possible, unless you’re doing some crazy close-up. For everything else, the opposite applies.
  3. Shoot in RAW mode if you can. If you don’t blow out any pixels or leave any completely dark, this gives you four times the latitude (on my E-10; it’s more like 16-256 times on a badass camera) to lighten or darken a shot to compensate for exposure errors.
  4. Composition is really important, particularly with a low-pixel-count camera like mine. You can’t crop out much and still get a decent (200+, 300 DPI preferably) print at any reasonable size.
  5. If you’re shooting a panorama, don’t forget to set for manual exposure and a fixed white balance. Otherwise your stuff won’t stitch together for crap.
  6. Never try to use autofocus in the dark. If you’re shooting buildings at night, just focus at infinity.
  7. The little LCDs on cameras are never enough to tell if your picture was in focus, unless you zoom way in. It’s better to just shoot a whole lot, and review when you get home. If I were a professional, I’d take one of those portable hard drive/display thingies with me so I could do it on the fly.
  8. If you’re shooting macro, it’s generally important to make sure that the frontmost part of your subject is the most focused (see my albino squirrel pics in this gallery for proof through adversity). This is often difficult to tell by static focusing through the viewfinder. A good strategy in this case is to set the focus all the way in (or to a point where part of the subject is in focus, if you can’t get close enough), and then move the camera further away. The dynamic change in focus is easier to detect. This may not apply to cameras with a better manual focus mechanism than mine.
  9. When shooting macro, if you can’t review to make sure that enough of your subject is in focus, shoot several arperatures deeper to make sure you get one that is, or shorten the telephoto, or move further away. The last two will likely require some cropping, and the first sometimes requires a cable release.
  10. Cable releases make life easier in many, many situations, especially when there’s not a lot of light. It’s my next purchase.
  11. If you’re stuck with crappy on-camera flash, rig some kind of reflector up to send it off the ceiling or a wall, if there is one to bounce it off off. Reflectors are cool for fill light outside during the day, as well.
  12. Polarizers are very cool, in that they can fix your exposure and eliminate glare and reflections. The only important thing to remember is that not every picture looks better with glare and, particularly, reflections removed.
  13. If you’ve got consistent light and a white card, setting a custom white balance will generally give you the best results. If you can’t set a custom white balance, use a preset if the light’s consistent.
  14. You will never be happy with the camera that you have.

Man, this would have been a crap weekend if it wasn’t so much fun.

Monday, June 27th, 2005

Sunday I decided I was going to go hike the Greenbelt again, as I hadn’t done it in quite some time, and not at all since I got my E-10. I started out at Westgate again, and this time, having a better sense of location, discovered that there is in fact a trail that takes you all the way to the greenbelt proper in about 18 minutes.

I then hiked around a bit and after quite a bit of hemmng and hawing decided to head upstream to Scottish Woods trail and see if I could find any water. As you can tell from the pictures, it took a good long while to find any. Sculpture falls has, at long last, pretty much dried up. Even the most upstream of the falls at Scottish Woods wasn’t flowing, although the next one downstream was, and had a pool of incredibly refreshing water behind it. I had to get out as soon as I got in, though, to go meet various TAMU alumni for a trip out to lake Travis, and proceeded to make a hellacious uphill hike where I managed to give my camera a nasty knock that resulted in it acting a bit goofy ever since.

This made me very, very, very, very, very, very sad, especially as I was at the time under the impression that it had simply stopped working. I found out later that I can get it to work again by tilting it 30 degrees to the right and giving it a sharp whack on the right side of the case.

Despite my unhappiness over this, I had a helluva time out on the lake, but then was helping to load up my buddy Dave’s boat slipped and fell into the water with my brand new cell phone in my pocket, rendering it inoperable as well.

This also did not really improve my mood. It’s all seemed to work out in the end, though, as after a day of drying out, my cell phone is back in working order, and my camera was in working enough order that I was able to get some pretty nice pictures from the UT campus after work today.

And, to be fair, I did have a good time all around, so I guess it’s a wash.

More news: I can’t post all the pictures I want to this site that convey a story of the places I visited and things I saw, without diluting the quality of the pictures in terms of charting my progress in the act of taking them. So, I’m going to break out my best pics to another site, il.lusion.org, just about my photography. Height of arrogance, I know, but I’m an arrogant bastard, so there it is.

I’m working on some gallery-making software to make this possible and easy. It’s pretty early on, but I’m calling it, completely inappropriately, Galleria. I’ll give it a site when I get it at least semi-finished.

This is the last day…

Monday, June 13th, 2005

…of my three day weekend. I’ve had one hell of a time so far. Yesterday morning I ate breakfast at lunch at Juan in a Million on Ceasar Chavez a few blocks east of I-35. I’d never been there before, but I had three damned good bacon, potato, egg, and cheese breakfast tacos for $2.70, and you can bet I’ll be going there again.

After I ate I had Mark drop me off at the MoPac access, where I intended to hike as far upstream as I could. Twin falls has turned into a mud puddle, just completely gone. Sculpture is drier than I’ve seen it before, but still there and still flowing, as is the spring-fed pool just downstream.

I managed to splash my camera with water or something while at Sculpture, putting it out of commission for the rest of the day, so I didn’t get any pictures of the kamikaze sunfish that attacked my legs to protect its younguns, or the pair of baby armadillos I found way further west, or the big grass snake I almost stepped on at the end of the day. Doesn’t matter–I saw them.

About half an hour upstream of Sculpture I ran into a small natural falls with a long, deep pool on the upstream side, and a lot of rocks bathed in shallow running water on the downstream side. It was a really nice place, although it doesn’t support nearly as much of a “people load” as the two big falls downstream.

About 5 minutes upstream of that I found a semi-synthetic fall, big rocks with concrete poured into the gaps to make a big, straight, two-tiered fall with a fairly deep pool at the bottom. Both of these are pretty much straight across from Scottish Woods Trail.

I kept going upstream until a fair bit after the trail on the north side ran out, and I was basically just fighting my way cross-country. At some point this became untenable and I just started walking in the creek, which was by this point knee-deep and flat-bottomed anyway. A bit later on it started to get deep again, so I made my way to the south bank and discovered that there was trail on that side, too. I followed that trail all the way up to Lost Creek Blvd, and then followed it, uphill all the way, to 360. I later got a look at a map and found out that this was, to put it charitably, the long way ’round.

That was about it, but it was hella fun.

Man, yesterday was one of those good days….

Sunday, June 12th, 2005

…I wonder when I’ll pay for it? :)

It started out merely okay–I got up at 9:00, but didn’t do much of anything except watch Appleseed with Jay, up until about 4pm. That’s when Dan called and invited us to throw in on a pontoon boat rental out on lake Travis. I hadn’t anything more planned for the afternoon than for the morning, so I jumped all over that, and it turned out to be a hell of a good decision. It was so much of a blast that I’m labeling the gallery Lake Travis 1, because I’m sure there’ll be a couple more before the summer’s over.

After that I ended up going to a party at a friend of friend’s house, and met this fine-looking woman Sara(h), who is presumably none of the Sara(h)s in my old phone, although I’m told I met her before, back in the Metropolis daze. She’s in town for the summer, and studying for the NY bar exam. She’s a gonna be an IP lawyer. We spent a goodly portion of the night talking about IP law, Lawrence Lessig (she was at the Canadian Creative Commons inaugural conference, and apparently got to hang out with him some over the course of it), America’s role in the world, just exactly how evil, to put a point on it, big business is, and hella other stuff. Damn. Damn Damn Damn.

I’m gonna cook some food and hit the trail.

Can you measure your life by your address book?

Saturday, June 11th, 2005

I fear that I will never get my cell phone to charge again, and so today, after leaving it off for a while, I turned it on to copy out as many phone numbers and names as I could. I got them all.

All the ones that I cared about, that is. Out of probably 200 entries in my phone book, I wrote out 51 of them. The others were either people who had died, I didn’t know any more, didn’t have the same numbers any more, didn’t want to talk to any more, or just plain didn’t recognize (How does one end up with “Sara”, “Sarah”, “Sarah B”, and “Sarah C” in one’s phone book, without knowing a single Sara(h)? I blame drugs).

I don’t know whether to be sad or happy at this slimming of my circle of acquaintances. After all, 51 isn’t a bad number, and it’s one that keeps growing. That phone was only 3 years old, after all.